Alnwick still looking over shoulders after loss

ALNWICK RFC 0HARROGATE 25As Alnwick, having lost the away match in October, try to drag themselves clear of the relegation places, they would have been only too well aware of the task facing them if they were to get anything against a side who were currently vying for promotion eight league places above them.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 12:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 12:50 pm
Alnwick on way to a heavy home defeat by Harrogate on Saturday. Picture by Steve Miller.
Alnwick on way to a heavy home defeat by Harrogate on Saturday. Picture by Steve Miller.

It was immediately apparent from the beginning of this match that there would be two highly influential factors at play, namely the strong wind blowing directly up the pitch and the size and weight of Harrogate’s forwards.

On a pitch sodden after recent rains, Alnwick kicked off into the wind only to see the kick get blown back and fail to go 10m. Harrogate comfortably won the ensuing scrum and after forward drives were halted, a speculative punt was fielded by Alnwick who were then penalised at a ruck as they tried to run the ball out of defence. Fox’s well-judged kick from 25m put Harrogate -03 up within three minutes.

From the re-start, things got rapidly worse for Alnwick as their backs knocked on whilst trying to run clear from a quick throw-in. Comfortably winning the ensuing scrum 10m out, Harrogate set up four driving mauls before Brady was driven over and Fox converted for 0-10 after only five minutes.

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Alnwick barely had time to draw breath before Harrogate’s powerful pack drove forward from a scrum on Alnwick’s 10m line with forwards and backs combining well to switch play right then left. Winger Jukes almost got to the line but Edwards was in support to take the inside pass and cut through to score with Fox converting for 0-17.

The score moved to 0-20 on 15 minutes when Alnwick were penalised at a set scrum and Fox made no mistake from 22m.

After these early setbacks, Alnwick re-grouped and from then on until the interval fought a determined rear-guard action as Harrogate pinned them deep in their own half for prolonged periods. With the wind effectively preventing any clearing kicks the only option was to run the ball out of defence but even that was risky and handling errors inevitable.

Aided by penalties and some quick thinking by scrum-half Peter Moralee, Alnwick managed some occasional forward progress but Harrogate’s defence were always on the alert.

Continued on page 52.